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Strange Flares

 

Published : 23rd July 2013

(Unfortunately there is one link missing in this discussion ... Even though it is missing I decided to keep that part of the thread as it would have lost all meaning ... I sure that the general idea still is clear)

Talking about Flares.

Did a job several months ago where we had several flares over a five week shoot. The configuration we were using was nothing unusual:

SR3+Set of primes HS+Canon Zoom 11-165mm. Took a lot of time flagging, matting. They kept on popping up once and a while. Not many but they were there. Decided to no longer use the zoom but to no avail. Never had so many on one shoot. It was a real nightmare. We became paranoid. I think all in all we had 6-7 nasty ones. Fortunately because of editing and some post fixing we got away with it; with the exception of one long steadicam shot scene. Because of the last shot there was a meeting organised by the insurance at the post production house in Paris which I attended together with the head of the technical department of a big rental house where the gear came from. The gate of the camera was not different from the many other gates that I had worked with and the camera technician could neither explain nor had he seen any flares like that before. I have to add that the gear was not the best on the market, it was correct We tried to prove that there was no mistake made by us nor was the gear the cause of these flares. In other words the cause of these flares were beyond our control. Neither the DoP, myself nor others had seen flares like this before. The conditions the scenes were shot in we all had them many times before.

Couple of days later whilst prepping in Munich for another job I told the story to another head of technical maintenance of a well known rental house as well. He replied:"Oh you've had an emulsion problems well!" Strangely I have heard this on a couple of other occasions about recent shoots. I don't know but I wonder if the new emulsions are more prone to flares than the old ones? Could it be possible.

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich
Assistant Camera - Camera Assistant - Kamera Assistent
BVK(German Society of Cinematographers) - European based
Mobil# Munich +491608036889 - London +447910034443 (please use German number)
cml-listmum


In addition to my earlier post I try to describe the flare we had on that steadicam shot.

SR III, 25mm HS, T2 no filters, MB3 with additional black wrap on top till halfway the sides, emulsion 7218.

The location is inside a department store. The shot is following a man walking out of room crossing an entire floor, going up the escalator, crossing an entire floor again, going up an escalator pausing for a short while then going up an escalator again. About 3 minutes. There are some lights installed but hidden behind items such as columns, but the main light is the existing light from the department story. All over the place there are tiny spots fitted inside the false ceiling. Our protagonist is walking under these spots. Sometimes the camera is ahead of him sometimes he is ahead of the camera. All the spots where he is passing under have been diffused by the lighting guys. On several occasions when doing so there is a cone shaped "flare" for a very short time. Very strange.

BTW ... during the two floor crossings there is some diffused fill light held by one of the gaffers walking along with the steadicam.

Did several jobs in department stores with similar lighting fixtures, no
steadicam but dolly shots with similar gear, never encountered that before.

Have to say that then the spots were not diffused as on the steadicam
shot now.

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich


>> All the spots where he is passing under have been diffused by the lighting guys. On several occasions when >>doing so there is a cone shaped "flare" for a very short time."

Are the flares through center of frame, or do they come from the edge? And are the inside gate edges painted black, or are they chromed? In other words, I think what's happened is that the ceiling point sources were occasionally being projected against the gate edge inside, causing a momentary flare. We get to fix these things fairly often - we're looking forward to 2-perf becoming more popular.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>> Did a job several months ago where we had several flares over a five week shoot."

I've seen these flares before. Usually with 16mm cameras using 35mm format lenses. But it's not always (I've also seen these flares in a 2-perf converted Kinor).. You see them a lot in Dave Chappelle's Block Party and Swingers just before a hard light source enters frame. The flare just spikes from the top or the bottom. I've only seen it come from the sides once and it wasn't very pronounced.

"The gate of the camera was not different from the many other gates that I had worked with and the camera technician could neither explain nor had he seen any flares like that before. "

Old gates, new gates, black gates, metallic gates. Sometimes light will kick off the back of the mirror on old cameras. I've had to remove them and re-paint them in matte black. Sometimes it kicks off of something else. I've seen it on new cameras and old cameras next to identical cameras of the same vintage that didn't exhibit the same issue. This is the same thing going on in the Ultra Primes thread, I'm sure.

It's not as common as I make it sound... but it's around.

"He replied : "Oh you've had an emulsion problem as well!" Strangely I have heard this on a couple of other occasions about recent shoots. I don't know but I wonder if the new emulsions are more prone to flares than the old ones? Could it be possible. "

I haven't heard of it being an emulsion problem, because if you put scotch tape in the gate (as you can't see it from the viewfinder while the mirror is in reflex position), mount the lens and inch the camera out of reflex you can see the flares projected on the tape. Also, I don't see how a photographic emulsion would be more or less prone to
light flares that were being produced and relayed optically.

I have a DVD full of footage with the anomaly in my desk at work. I'll
pull a frame or rip a quick *.mov and post it somewhere if anyone is
interested.

"we're looking forward to 2-perf becoming more popular "

Me too!

Nathan Milford
Camera Tech, NYC
AbelCineTech


It is painfully easy to replicate these flares. Unscrew the top of a maglight that has a fresh battery in it and wave it in and out of frame. Make sure the aperture is wide open. It can cause a gate flare on all four sides. I've seen it with just about every camera out there, but I think it's a bit worse in cameras with a thinner, flat gate design such as the Aatons. And it's worse in 16. I actually had to shoot a test of this years ago to show an insurance rep what caused the problem.

Sometimes the problem can't be avoided. Night-time driving shots where the streetlights shine into frame is a common example.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP/TD
Abel Cine Tech


>>Night-time driving shots where the streetlights shine into frame is a common example.

I just had that happen to me on a few shots(Aaton, driving/street at night, Super Speed 12mm)

John Babl
DP
Miami


Nathan Milford wrote:

>>I haven't heard of it being an emulsion problem... I don't see how a photographic emulsion would be more >>or less prone to light flares that were being produced and relayed optically.

That's why I am asking. But for two heads of technical depts. well informed persons, in different rental houses, different countries to make a similar remark is puzzling enough to wonder. I am not saying there is but maybe it is part of the equation. After a while when one thinks he has found a good anti flare technique and then this shows up one starts to be...

Regards,

Emmanuel, Munich


>> It is painfully easy to replicate these flares...

Guess I will have to come and see how exactly you do it cause during camera tests prior to even shooting the test I check the condition under the hood so to speak. Anything shiny inside arouses suspicion, I also have done the test with light and the scotch tape. Rather eliminate that problem before starting testing at all. Over the years and thanks to CML I have polished my anti-flare procedures quite well and it is usually at the testing stage that it is the most successful.

Especially regarding zoom lenses. Either I am doing something not quite right still or even wrong. Maybe it is just bad luck.

One problem is that testing time allocated is becoming shorter, camera package deals sometimes on an edge and so on...

One rental rep told me not so long ago: What do you expect? You get what you pay for!

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich


> Are the flares through center of frame ...

The flares are starting top of the frame going in a cone shape opening up further the bottom. The effect is as if we had put the whole place under smoke. But the flare in itself only lasts about a second. Just before and after that everything is fine. We did several takes and they reappear in the same spot. Now the changes that this repeats itself with a steadicam is quite astonishing. It is frustrating as there are many of those ceiling lights, several other actors and many extras involved and only when the main actor walks under it, and not at every occasion does this happen. But when there is a flare it is identical. Camera distance to actor varies between 5ft and 8ft.

>>And are the inside gate edges painted black, ... the ceiling point sources were occasionally being projected >>against the gate edge inside, causing a momentary flare.

You are probably right. No the edges were not painted black. Although I have heard of this technique before, in the many years I have assisted I never came across black painted gates. Saying that my Bolex S16 PL modified by Les Bosher has a black gate.

For in places where we for sure expected flares, we had none. On another scene we shot with two cameras, one SR III and one SR II. Lenses swapped back and forth during couple of hours. Shot parallel
most of the time, exterior on an airstrip, sun high noon, lost of light bouncing of shiny parts of airplanes of which one taxiing back and forth. On that scene we expected this to happen but not: SR III footage has a couple flares - SR II footage doesn't.

Guess will have to look into it. Spoke to many at local rental places here in Arriland and it does not seem to be done. It seems to be a combination of "several elements": a particular gate with certain lenses at certain times. But that pattern is not defined.

Frustrating!

What is also strange is: if this gate issue seems to be going on since
a long time, then why do manufacturers leave their gates as they are?

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich


Hi Emmanuel

I agree with everyone else so far, I have seen this on S16, especially 2perf 35 and a few times on 4 perf 35 when shooting wide open and there is a source of light just outside the frame, like a candle or streetlight or, really annoyingly, a flashing blue police light when the camera is attached to the squad car bonnet.

Usually the culprit comes into frame shortly after but sometimes it does not and the flare looks like a light leak.

Now I try and anticipate this and do whatever I can to avoid it, not
that that is any help to you.

Chris Maris
Director of Photography


Sample of the gate flare, it's a 1mb mp4 file. Is this what you saw Emmanuel?

http://nathanmilford.com/flare.html

Sadly this link is no longer available 21-07-2013)

From DVCAM dailies, to DVD back to DVCAM down to MPEG4... Ignore the quality (or lack thereof) ladies and gentlemen...

I think it was an XTRplus, with an 11/165 or an 8/64 on 7218. The client then went on to rent an SR2 and reshot, with the exact same flare issues. Not sure what lens the used on their second try... I lost that footage.

My imagination leads me to believe that 35mm primes or even S16mm zooms on the long end on S16mm cameras will be prone to this... but it's speculation.

I still don't buy that it could be the film stock.

Nathan Milford
Camera Tech, NYC
AbelCineTech


Wow, that looks like you got loads of glitter, on the fixtures, which is falling off as they reach the edges of the frame.

Yup, that is, as far as I am aware, a result of there being little if any distance between frames, as in 2 perf and s16, and lenses not designed to cope with this problem.

Sticking a black non reflective material (like felt) around the glass, as opposed to shiny plastic or painted metal ridges (also designed to reflect light away from the frame edges) helps a bit but I think it is just one of those things.

An old Angenieux zoom (spelling) lens I bought for a 16mm camera already had felt stuck round the edges, I guess for the same purpose.

I first experienced it about 15 years ago on my first 35mm feature length film. As I tilted down from a warehouse ceiling to some urban squatters living in a post apocalyptic netherworld (you get the picture? heh heh) all lit by candle light, you could see the damned candles in the top of frame before they entered the bottom. The director loved it anyway.

Anything like what you saw Emmanuel

Chris Maris
Director of Photography


Chris Maris wrote:

> Anything like what you saw Emmanuel

There is a similarity. Send you and Nathan a sample shot of what we had.

I guess it is one of those things, never had this before and having worked in many similar conditions and other flare prone areas this came as a real surprise at the time.

I like your idea of the velvet, very much. Time to get a roll of that paper velvet. That is similar to what they use inside those sunshade tubes for tele lenses, isn't it?

Nathan

Not saying it is per se some emulsion issue. Just that having worked on many shoots with identical camera setups, and similar lighting situations and never had that kind of flare; how can I say this? One is looking for answers. When two well placed persons mention others having flare issues and makes a "possible" link with new emulsions, one wonders. You are probably if not certainly right but I wanted to ask other people if they noticed a rise in flares recently during their work. Since then I have not had a report of flares showing up, and have done quite some work with similar setups. Maybe you have seen the kind of flare as in the sample I just send you. Important is to find out what it is and how to avoid it.

I think your idea of collecting samples of these kind of anomalies is a very good one. This should be done more often. Maybe we could setup some databank of these kind of horrors.

Regards

Emmanuel, Munich


>> some databank of these kind of horrors.

cmlDatabankofHorrors? Sounds like a great new list.

You say SR3 s16 on primes and a zoom.

Did this flare appear on all lenses or just primes? It is odd that it is coming from the top of frame though the lights, which are obviously to blame, well out of view. By the shape of the flare I would guess it is from a light above the lens as opposed to one far away, in shot or to the side (obviously). The flare we had on Frostbiten was expected and very similar to yours in shape etc, though it would enter from the bottom of frame sometimes as the frames were so close together. We did not get it on the 3perf Arri, only the 2perf Kinors we used.

I think it is an unfortunate result of filming with so many spot lights in the room but I would imagine it was more prominent on certain lenses and not others?

Not that this helps.

Chris Maris
Director of Photography


>>some databank of these kind of horrors.

>>cmlDatabankofHorrors? Sounds like a great new list

Just sell it as a "look"

Or wait till it becomes an After Effects plug-in

Sam "it's not a bug it's a feature dept" Wells
film/.../nj


>> Or wait till it becomes an After Effects plug-in

Not to waste bandwidth with inane replies... but... I actually laughed so hard at that I split my coffee...

Nathan Milford
Grand Inquisitor of Camera Problems, sometimes I fix them too...
AbelCineTech, NY


>>I think your idea of collecting samples of these kind of anomalies is a very good one. This should be done >>more often.
>Maybe we could setup some databank of these kind of horrors.

Many times on this list, and elsewhere (and on the old-fashioned grapevine that spreads horror stories about problems all over town), someone will report a problem - with more or less detail - and there will be a chorus of "yes, we had that too" - most often in relation to an entirely different problem that happened to have one feature in common. Immediately, everyone becomes Sherlock Holmes (not) and leaps to a conclusion. Rarely with any justification.

I guess a database might help - but only if it was a database, not just an image bank. Seeing a blob on a frame of film is only 10% of the story. You'd need to know about other frames, incidence of the blemish or fault, if it's a scratch which side it's on, what camera, magazine, lens, etc etc.

And very often, these "horrors" need to be examined on the negative itself - a technique which almost everyone except a lab technician overlooks.

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Dominic Case
Atlab Australia
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